New report on SEND tribunals is published

A new report from the Disabled Children’s Partnership and Pro Bono Economics, ‘Wasting Money, Wasting Potential’, sets out the money that is wasted by councils on forcing parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to go to tribunal to get the right support

Today (25th September), a new report exposing the costs of tribunals to both local authorities and families has been published. The report by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (of which the CBF is a member) and Pro Bono Economics found that there were 11,000 SEND tribunals lodged in 2021-22 (an increase of 29% from the previous year), and that councils lost 96% of cases that progressed to a hearing. This equates to £60 million of public money wasted on forcing parents and carers to bring tribunal cases – enough money to fund 9,960 SEND school places. 

The report also looks at the cost of the tribunal process on children with SEND and their families. Not receiving the right support, and having to go through the tribunal to get it, has a wide range of negative impacts on families: 

  • Stress, anxiety and exhaustion 
  • Parents/carers having to reduce or stop working, reducing their income and savings 
  • Worse physical and mental health 
  • Significant impacts on siblings – parents are less able to support them, and they experience worse educational outcomes 

This is in addition to the serious impacts that not receiving the right support in a timely manner has on children with SEND – meaning their needs are not met, they may not be able to attend school, and they are at increased risk of exclusion.  

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation is aware that not getting the right support at the right time also means that needs can increase, as well as an increase in behaviours that challenge. This often leads to restraint being used which can leave children with SEND with injuries and psychological trauma.  

This report once again demonstrates the need for proper investment in early support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. The current system is failing children with disabilities and their families, forcing families to bring tribunal cases to get the right support for their children, even when councils lose 96% of the time. During the lengthy wait for a tribunal, children are being failed.  

Limited funding must be spent wisely focusing on the delivery of good outcomes. We know that councils are reluctant to include the right support in EHCPs because it puts a legal duty on them to fund this support. By investing early and ensuring that councils have enough funding to get things right for children with special educational needs and disabilities, this process – which has significant costs to the child as well as financial costs – can be avoided. £60 million could be better spent on ensuring disabled children and families get the right support in the right place at the right time. 

You can read the full report here



Family Support Service

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this report, you can call the Family Support Service on 0300 666 0126

Or email us at

We are open at the following times:

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 9am – 3pm

We offer information about challenging behaviour to anyone who provides support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability. We can also signpost you to other specialist organisations and sources of information.

Please note we are a small support service so you may not be able to get support straight away. We will support families with urgent concerns as a priority.

Professionals are also welcome to contact the CBF.